Xcel Energy Inc., the investor-owned utility that has been championed for its commitment to wind power by clean energy advocates far and wide, is at risk of being dropped as the electricity provider to this city, which is its national headquarters. Among other reasons, it is accused of not being sufficiently pro-clean energy. The $14 billion Fortune 500 company, which operates in eight states and has provided electricity to Minneapolis for more than a century, faces the possible cancellation of a franchise agreement that allows it to provide power to an estimated half-million residents and businesses in Minnesota's largest city and the economic hub of the 3.3-million-resident Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. The city's natural gas provider, CenterPoint Energy Inc., is also at risk of losing its franchise agreement with the city, which expires at the same time as Xcel Energy's contract in December 2014. If renewed, the utility contracts would lock in Minneapolis' electricity and gas providers for 20 years, until 2034, according to city officials. Should Minneapolis decide to divorce the utilities, it would become one of the largest municipal utility owners in the United States, alongside Los Angeles; San Antonio; Seattle; and Sacramento, Calif. A coalition of environmental and citizen advocacy groups known as Minneapolis Energy Options (MEO) has pressed elected leaders to reconsider the city's relationships with the two utility giants on grounds that Xcel and CenterPoint are fundamentally profit-driven companies that have not done enough to hold down electricity rates and improve their environmental performance.Minneapolis mayoral candidates deeply divided over potential utilities takeover
Minneapolis has commissioned a $250,000 study of the energy systems to aid in franchise negotiations with Xcel and CenterPoint. That study will be completed after the first of the year and after the election that may have the utility takeover question on the ballot.
Comment: Note the anti-business sentiment expressed: "fundamentally profit-driven companies". It would be a giant mistake!
U.S. Funds Buy No Love at Afghan College
Nangarhar University is a symbol of American largess: U.S. taxpayers foot the bill for dormitories, classrooms and computer labs.
Increasingly dominating the campus of Afghanistan's second largest university, however, are Islamist activists who openly sympathize with the Taliban.
"The Taliban are the people who are defending this country," said Hamad, a leader of the self-appointed Nangarhar University student council that organizes regular demonstrations against the U.S. and President Hamid Karzai's government. "The foreign troops are invaders."
The council is described by other students as a well-organized group that can muster hundreds of protesters on a moment's notice. Afghan and U.S. officials are taking note: Nangarhar University student demonstrations, which routinely block the main highway connecting Kabul to Jalalabad and the Pakistani border, feature the white flag of the Taliban and the green flag of Hezb-e Islami, the movement of anti-U.S. warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
The students sometimes also fly the black banner used by al Qaeda. Afghanistan's national flag, explains Hamad, a 24-year-old Islamic-studies student from the northern province of Baghlan who didn't want to have his full name used, "has not maintained its integrity."
The student militancy sweeping Afghan campuses ahead of the U.S.-led coalition's withdrawal next year isn't limited to Nangarhar. In late May, hundreds of students rallied outside the Afghan capital's prestigious Kabul University to protest against legislation that criminalizes violence against women. "That demonstration really made me worried, that's where you can see the radicalization of the youth," said Najla Ayubi, a women's rights activist and former judge.
This rise of extremism among Afghan students—some of the biggest direct beneficiaries of U.S. assistance—underscores the lack of goodwill that more than a decade of American taxpayer money has bought here. It also harks back to a potent precedent in recent Afghan history. Many of Afghanistan's mujahedeen warlords who combated the Soviets, each other and the U.S. over the past three decades, including Mr. Hekmatyar, started out in politics as student activists in the 1970s.
...... The international community's investment in the Afghan university system is part of a larger development portfolio: Since 2002, the U.S. Agency for International Development has spent a combined $934.4 million on education here.Comment: Makes me sick! Frankly this is but a microcosm of virtually all US aid to the Arab world. Examples ... Iraq & Egypt.
Saving Detroit From Itself - A federal bailout would only reinforce the city's corrupt political culture.
Detroit's decline really began with the middle-class migration to the suburbs in the 1950s, which accelerated after the 1967 race riot and election of labor organizer Coleman Young as mayor in 1973. During his 20-year reign, Mr. Coleman ignored crime, inflamed racial tensions and built a patronage machine.
Local politicians bought union support with generous labor agreements. Pensions were sweetened retroactively. In good investment years, retirement funds issued bonus checks. Until two years ago public-safety officers didn't have to pay a penny to their pensions and could retire at 55 with roughly 85% of their salary, a 2.25% annual cost-of-living increase and nearly free health benefits.
.... Misrule has resulted in the nation's highest violent crime rate, worst schools, blight and corruption. A former mayor, city treasurer and several pension-fund trustees were recently indicted for corruption.
..... Unions say it's not fair for the city to break promises to workers, though it long ago abrogated its social contract with local taxpayers to protect their safety and provide basic public services. What would really be unfair is to make taxpayers in cities like San Jose, California, and Providence, Rhode Island, which have scaled back current worker pensions to avert bankruptcy, pay for Detroit's recklessness. As history shows, sending more cash to Detroit won't fix its breakdown in self-government. Another bailout would merely support its toxic political culture of neglect and corruption.Comment: Should not receive a federal bailout! As an aside ... the old Sim City simulation on saving Detroit was un-winnable (at least by me!).
- Tear down blight (with delay)
- Sell the art collection. It's symbolic! Sell the Howdy Doody and one of the first Mustangs
- What not destined to be permanently undeveloped, have an Oklahoma-style land run. Lots are free if one builds on and lives in for 10 years.
- Create tax-free manufacturing zones (20 year)
- But no federal bailout!
Practical Back-Up Solutions for Your Digital Files
- I back up to our Linux server (downside is that if the house were destroyed, this backup is not geographically remote)
- Really important stuff is in the cloud (tax data with TurbuTax, Wells Fargo maintains 7 years of statements available on-line)
- Also some files are on GDrive
- Photos are on Flikr
Neuroscientists plant false memories in the brain
The phenomenon of false memory has been well-documented: In many court cases, defendants have been found guilty based on testimony from witnesses and victims who were sure of their recollections, but DNA evidence later overturned the conviction. In a step toward understanding how these faulty memories arise, MIT neuroscientists have shown that they can plant false memories in the brains of mice. They also found that many of the neurological traces of these memories are identical in nature to those of authentic memories.Comment: A theme from Blade Runner, "Deckard is sent to the Tyrell Corporation to ensure that the test works on Nexus-6 models. There he discovers that Tyrell's (Joe Turkel) assistant Rachael (Sean Young) is an experimental replicant who believes herself to be human. Rachael's consciousness has been enhanced with false memories to provide an "emotional cushion" and, as a result, a more extensive test is required to determine whether she is a replicant." Image Source
Don Shelby reportedly considering congressional run
Would be against Republican Erik Paulsen. Frankly I think Shelby would be bored as a congressman.
Images below: In Rocky Horror play in Minneapolis.
Weiner admits to XXX online chats with woman for 6 months after resigning from Congress because of sext scandal; won't drop out of race
Mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner admitted today he had another extended, raunchy online sexual relationship with a young woman — just months after resigning in disgrace from Congress in a sexting scandal. But he won't be dropping out of the race. And his wife, Huma Abedin, is standing by him. In a hasty scheduled joint press conference Abedin, Weiner said he will forge ahead with the campaign despite the latest sex scandal. Weiner insisted that Huma knew all the details of the new revelations and insisted it's "behind" them.Comment: Letterman's goto be thinking ... the gift that just keeps on giving
This is my first attempt (for this deployment) of sending something to Roger. I had to send something that wouldn't melt (so Trail mix with chocolate chunks wouldn't be wise!).
I've actually used Amazon to ship to FPO (Fleet Post Office) in Iraq and to some of Roger's USMC buddies in Afghanistan). And I used Amazon to ship to APO (Army Post Office) to nephew in Iraq.
Since Roger is actually a hour's drive N of Fort Bliss, it will be interesting to see how long it takes for it to make its way up to him. Top image source
Comment: The following is a portion of a of philosophy statement of a local (Minneapolis area) Independent Baptist Fundamentalist Christian Day School. I am linking to it here only so readers will know I did not make this up.
During the first year after leaving home our children are probably more vulnerable to the attacks of Satan than at any other time in their lives. Those who enter directly into the job market, enroll in vocational school, or enlist in the military will be under tremendous peer pressure to give in to sin. There will be few strong Christians from which to draw strength to do right. Those who enroll in a secular university or college will face the additional danger of the humanistic professors’ influence. Young students become enamored with and intimidated by the professors’ knowledge with the result that they eventually reject the Bible standards they have grown up with. Non-fundamental religiously affiliated colleges are even more dangerous than secular schools. The teaching at such institutions is not only steeped in humanistic thought, but also in false doctrine.Comments: Image source
In the view of this church & school, after graduation, it is ...:
- Wrong to directly enter the job market
- Wrong to go to a vocational school
- Wrong to serve in the military
Wrong to go to a secular school
- And "Non-fundamental religiously affiliated colleges are even more dangerous than secular school"
- It seems the devil, to them, is stronger than the Almighty of Whom it is promised: "My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand" (John 10:29)
- While obviously we need to have certain barriers established and standards of associations, but we are to be salt and light in and to the world. I Corinthians 5:9-11, "I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat."
- “It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it's a depression when you lose yours”, Harry Truman
- “Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. As a peacemaker the lawyer has superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough” Abraham Lincoln
- “A bad neighbor is a misfortune, as much as a good one is a great blessing.” Hesiod
- “The good neighbor looks beyond the external accidents and discerns those inner qualities that make all men human and, therefore, brothers.” Martin Luther King
- “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40
Comment: Trust me I've had some stinkers .... Super Value anyone! But this one is the best of all of my investments. Doubled since I bought it 3 years ago (7/29/2010)
Church Sign Generates Emotional Debate Over Race After Zimmerman Verdict
A sign posted outside a south suburban church is generating a powerful debate over race in the wake of the George Zimmerman verdict. The marquee outside the First Baptist Church of University Park earlier this week read: “It Is Safe To Kill Black People In Amerikkka.”Comment: "Just the Facts"
Race, Politics and the Zimmerman Trial - The left wants to blame black criminality on racial animus and 'the system,' but blacks have long been part of running that system.
Any candid debate on race and criminality in this country would have to start with the fact that blacks commit an astoundingly disproportionate number of crimes.
African-Americans constitute about 13% of the population, yet between 1976 and 2005 blacks committed more than half of all murders in the U.S. The black arrest rate for most offenses—including robbery, aggravated assault and property crimes—is typically two to three times their representation in the population.
The U.S. criminal-justice system, which currently is headed by one black man (Attorney General Eric Holder) who reports to another (President Obama), is a reflection of this reality, not its cause.
"High rates of black violence in the late twentieth century are a matter of historical fact, not bigoted imagination," wrote the late Harvard Law professor William Stuntz in "The Collapse of American Criminal Justice."
"The trends reached their peak not in the land of Jim Crow but in the more civilized North, and not in the age of segregation but in the decades that saw the rise of civil rights for African Americans—and of African American control of city governments."
The left wants to blame these outcomes on racial animus and "the system," but blacks have long been part of running that system. Black crime and incarceration rates spiked in the 1970s and '80s in cities such as Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago and Philadelphia, under black mayors and black police chiefs. Some of the most violent cities in the U.S. today are run by blacks.
..... The homicide rate claiming black victims today is seven times that of whites, and the George Zimmermans of the world are not the reason. Some 90% of black murder victims are killed by other blacks.
So let's have our discussions, even if the only one that really needs to occur is within the black community. Civil-rights leaders today choose to keep the focus on white racism instead of personal responsibility, but their predecessors knew better.
"Do you know that Negroes are 10 percent of the population of St. Louis and are responsible for 58% of its crimes? We've got to face that. And we've got to do something about our moral standards," Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told a congregation in 1961. "We know that there are many things wrong in the white world, but there are many things wrong in the black world, too. We can't keep on blaming the white man. There are things we must do for ourselves."
FBI Ransomware Now Targeting Apple’s Mac OS X Users
Comment: Link explains how it works and how to fix
Their mission will be to clear roads of improvised explosive devices that could injure or kill U.S. troops as they patrol and largely withdraw from a country three times the size of Minnesota. "It can be dangerous, (but) we're prepared," Capt. Matt Jukkala, commander of the 849th Mobility Augmentation Company based in Litchfield, said in an interview. The company, of which four out of five soldiers will be going on their first overseas deployment, will train for several months in Ft. Bliss, Texas, before arriving in Afghanistan in the Fall.Comment: Sad goodbye yesterday
Minneapolis trying to deal with five new areas infected with emerald ash borer
“All ash trees are at risk, and all of the infected trees will die,” Peggy Booth of the Minneapolis Tree Advisory Commission told members of the City Council’s Regulatory Services, Energy and Environment Committee. “We really have five new areas of the city that now have confirmed emerald ash borer as of late winter,” said Booth. Ash trees are a major part of the urban forest in Minneapolis, with 38,000 on public land and an estimated 175,000 on private property.Comment: See Emerald ash borer infestation. We had the Bachman's consultant out today. He recommends a dwarf crab apple to replace the green spruce. Consultant says that it is likely that ash in front yard and ash in side yard will be killed off within 5 years.
How to Find Grace After Disgrace - Today's fallen politicians have a lot to learn from John Profumo's example.
Because Profumo actually believed in shame, he could absorb it and let it change him however it would. In a way what he believed in was reality. He'd done something terrible—to his country, to his friends, to strangers who had to explain the headlines about him to their children. He never knew political power again. He never asked for it. He did something altogether more confounding. He did the hardest thing for a political figure. He really went away. He went to a place that helped the poor, a rundown settlement house called Toynbee Hall in the East End of London. There he did social work—actually the scut work of social work, washing dishes and cleaning toilets. He visited prisons for the criminally insane, helped with housing for the poor and worker education. And it wasn't for show, wasn't a step on the way to political redemption. He did it for 40 years. He didn't give interviews, never wrote a book, didn't go on TV.Comment: Same goes for pastors who have fallen morally (into adultery). Go away. Serve quietly. Redeem yourself. Don't seek to Pastor again!
As more than 50 million Twinkies start making their way to stores next week, the first order of business for the 83-year-old brand's new owner is to let customers know a classic is back. But behind the return of the familiar cream-filled sponge cake is a leaner operation, free of the union labor and the $1.3 billion in debt that saddled the brand's previous owners. With that clean slate, the new owner and chief executive, C. Dean Metropoulos, plans to launch into an ambitious growth plan and avoid the problems that led to two Chapter 11 bankruptcies, the last of which ended in liquidation.
... The previous distribution system involved roughly 6,000 drivers—all with union wages and pension benefits— delivering products to stores and placing them on shelves. The old Hostess distribution was governed by complicated work rules that required drivers to deliver bread and cakes on separate trucks, adding costs. Those delivery routes also reached only 50,000 of the country's roughly 150,000 convenience stores, and left some pockets around the country entirely without Twinkies.Comment: Free from:
- Union rules
- Inefficient plants
- Excess capacity: 11 factories at 50% capacity to 4 factories at 90% capacity
Recovery woes: America's second-largest employer is a temp agency
Behind Wal-Mart, the second-largest employer in America is Kelly Services, a temporary work provider. Friday's disappointing jobs report showed that part-time jobs are at an all-time high, with 28 million Americans now working part-time. The report also showed another disturbing fact: There are now a record number of Americans with temporary jobs. Approximately 2.7 million, in fact. And the trend has been growing. In the first quarter of 2013, U.S. staffing companies employed an average of 2.86 million temporary and contract workers, according to the American Staffing Association. This represents a 2.9 percent growth from the same period in 2012. For just the month of June, there was a 6.7 percent growth in the number of staffing jobs than last year. Temp jobs made up about 10 percent of the jobs lost during the Great Recession, but now make up a tenth of the jobs in the United States. In fact, nearly one-fifth of all jobs gained since the recession ended have been temporary. It's a sad state of affairs for our country. While part-time and temp jobs reached highs last month, full-time jobs decreased by another 240,000. The recovery, or lack thereof, is being fueled by a shift from full-time to part-time work.Comment: Image source. I have 2 family members who are temporary workers - both full time. Vacation benefits? Nil! Sick days? Nope!
“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? (Luke 15:8)Comment: I gave these coins (all minted in 1918 - the year of his birth) back in the late '90s. When my sister and Mother cleaned out Mom's house in prep for Mom's moving and the house sale, I asked them to look for the coins. No luck. Today my wife find them in our own house. Precious to me because I gave them to Dad for his birthday (I think back in 1997)
Has ‘Caucasian’ Lost Its Meaning?
AS a racial classification, the term Caucasian has many flaws, dating as it does from a time when the study of race was based on skull measurements and travel diaries. It has long been entirely unmoored from its geographical reference point, the Caucasus region. Its equivalents from that era are obsolete — nobody refers to Asians as “Mongolian” or blacks as “Negroid.”
The use of Caucasian to mean white was popularized in the late 18th century by Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, a German anthropologist, who decreed that it encompassed Europeans and the inhabitants of a region reaching from the Obi River in Russia to the Ganges to the Caspian Sea, plus northern Africans. He chose it because the Caucasus was home to “the most beautiful race of men, I mean the Georgians,” and because among his collection of 245 human skulls, the Georgian one was his favorite wrote Nell Irvin Painter, a historian who explored the term’s origins in her book “The History of White People.”
In 1889, the editors of the original Oxford English Dictionary noted that the term Caucasian had been “practically discarded.” But they spoke too soon. Blumenbach’s authority had given the word a pseudoscientific sheen that preserved its appeal. Even now, the word gives discussions of race a weird technocratic gravitas, as when the police insist that you step out of your “vehicle” instead of your car. ...“If you want to show that you’re being dispassionate then you use the more scientific term Caucasian,” Ms. Painter said.
Susan Glisson, who as the executive director of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation in Oxford, Miss., regularly witnesses Southerners sorting through their racial vocabulary, said she rarely hears “Caucasian.” “Most of the folks who work in this field know that it’s a completely ridiculous term to assign to whites,” she said. “I think it’s a term of last resort for people who are really uncomfortable talking about race. They use the term that’s going to make them be as distant from it as possible.”
There is another reason to use it, said Jennifer L. Hochschild, a professor of government and African-American studies at Harvard. “The court, or some clever clerk, doesn’t really want to use the word white in part because roughly half of Hispanics consider themselves white.” She added, “White turns out to be a much more ambiguous term now than we used to think it was.”Comment: It's simple ... there is just one race .... the human race! Image source. To quote MLK:
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
The release of the June Jobs' Report Friday was something of a relief for the markets. The Labor Department reported that the economy gained 195,000 jobs in June, which beat economists' expectations. The Department also reported that the economy gained 70,000 more jobs in April and May than it originally estimated. The report, however, also provides clear evidence that the the nation is splitting into two; only 47% of Americans have a full-time job and those who don't are finding it increasingly out of reach.Comment: Romney's 47% comment.
Park Sang Hak: North Korea's 'Enemy Zero'
It's nerve-racking to drive toward the North Korean border with Park Sang Hak. Called "Fireball" by his admirers, the North Korean-born Mr. Park is designated "Enemy Zero" by the Pyongyang regime, which two years ago sent an agent into South Korea to assassinate him with a poison-tipped pen. On this summer morning, he promises to do again what so infuriates the Kim dictatorship—launch large balloons into North Korea carrying leaflets, computer-memory sticks and sweets for the oppressed people of the hermit kingdom. In return, Pyongyang promises to "physically eliminate the kind of human scum that commits such treason." Adds the North Korean military: "The U.S. and the present puppet authorities of South Korea should not forget even a moment that the Rimjin Pavilion"—Mr. Park's favorite launch site near the Demilitarized Zone separating the two countries—"is within the range of direct sighting strike" of the Korean People's Army.Comment: Image source. That a regime is afraid of sweets and leaflets is telling!
Employer Mandate? Never Mind
And, lo, over eight interim final rules, three final rules, 20 requests for comment, 21 proposed rules, one information collection request, two amendments to the interim final rules, six requests for information and one frequently-asked-questions document, the Administration has created an employer-mandate system that, for example, requires business to track and report every full-time employee's hours of service on a monthly basis.
... Meanwhile, the law stipulates that a full-time workweek for the purposes of the mandate is 30 hours, when general business practice is at least 35. The result is that businesses have been scrambling to insulate themselves from higher labor costs by hiring part-time workers, or splitting shifts, or in some industries like fast food even sharing workers. Small firms trying to expand while avoiding the 50-worker trigger have come to be known as 49ers.
...... ObamaCare has become a rolling "train wreck," in Senator Max Baucus's memorable phrase, and it gets worse the more of it the public sees. The employer mandate is terrible policy, as the law's critics said before it passed. Now the Administration is all but admitting it can't implement it properly, and the task for opponents is to press the concession and begin to delay the rest of the law and dismantle it piece by piece.Comment: Charles Krauthammer calls Obamacare A Massive Transfer Of Wealth From The Young To The Old
Young people are going to be paying double and triple what [they] would ordinarily be paying in health insurance if the premium were linked to the risk, which is the way that would be for the last 600 years in insurance. But it's not; it's linked to what Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid agreed upon as the risk ratio. So they are going to be doubling and tripling, and the free lunch part of this affair is now over.